Well, not exactly but it's just as good as far as I'm concerned. Let me explain.
About three years ago, I set out to lose the 40 pounds I had allowed myself to gain after I retired in 2004.
That extra weight was affecting my ability to function in even the most ordinary ways. For example, I could not vacuum the house in one go without a rest part way through nor carry all the groceries up the walk from the car. Even taking the trash to the bins was an effort that left me breathing hard.
Losing the weight, I determined, involved not just a better diet – healthy while taking in fewer calories than I expended. It would also require regular exercise too because overall fitness to get me through the rest of my life in as good shape as possible was the larger goal.
I am no good at team sports. I don't like them, I have no interest and as you can imagine from that, I was always the last to be chosen for required high school gym teams. It didn't matter to me even then; it's not something I ever cared about.
But I was and am good at calisthenics, ballet exercises, gymnastics, tai chi and I am familiar with the principles of fitness.
So with the help of Dr. Google, I put together a routine that involves strength work, cardio, flexibility and balance/core exercises. Because I can't afford the prices gyms charge these days, it had to be a routine I could do at home with nothing much more than a resistance band, hand weights and my body itself.
Along with the weight loss, this has done wonders for me, for my body and how I live. I hardly notice vacuuming, I climb stairs with nary a huff or puff and I can carry many pounds of groceries from the car in one go.
Without John Oliver-level profanity, however, I cannot express how much I dislike doing these exercises four days a week.
I have maintained the schedule by regularly reordering the routine, changing out or rearranging the individual exercises, finding new ones and increasing reps or weights as necessary to keep it difficult enough and vaguely interesting for 45 minutes.
In three years, I haven't wavered because once having achieved the weight loss and the increased fitness became manifest daily in my stamina and well-being, I am afraid to lose it.(A little fear in this case isn't bad.) Now, however, a new reason to keep going has emerged.
As I explained above, I have next to no interest in physical activity beyond getting from point A to point B. (Too bad – all this would be much easier if I did.) But I have long been curious about the phenomenon of “runner's high.” Web MD reports that some runners experience a euphoria,
"'...a feeling of being invincible, a reduced state of discomfort or pain, and even a loss in sense of time while running,' says Jesse Pittsley, PhD, president of the American Society for Exercise Physiologists.”
That's something I would like to know about but since it was not/is not in my nature to take up running, it remained a mystery to me.
Then, about six weeks ago, after my usual morning workout and seemingly for no reason, I felt sensationally good. Maybe not “invincible” but amazingly energized both physically and mentally. My mood was high and all seemed extra-well with my world.
Nice, but I didn't much think about it until I realized it was happening after every workout.
I asked a 77-year-old friend who does a much heavier workout than mine, at a gym three days a week, about it. He couldn't say if it is related to runner's high but suggested I tell other elders in the “aging well” program I was then attending. It might give them inspiration to begin or continue an exercise program, he said.
Another friend who regularly ran long distances when he was younger said whatever I am feeling is definitely not runner's high. But I know that it is also definitely something good.
So although I won't experience runner's high, this will have to do and for me, it is a wonderful thing I look forward to.
Now, on those mornings when I say to myself, “Oh, you can skip the workout; who would know” (which is every workout day), I remember the “high” and get on with the routine.
Why this would happen suddenly after three years of regular workouts without it is as much a mystery to me as runner's high itself. But I'll take it. In addition to healthy behavior that keeps my body strong and flexible, I now have this bonus, feel-good outcome that some people take drugs - legal and not - to achieve. But I get it without effort even if I dislike the exercise sessions as much as I always have.
I'm telling you all this because the aging well program is finished and I agree with my friend that I should share this experience with someone. Today, you're it.
Does anyone here have any first hand experience with this phenomenon?